When voters go to the polls on November 8th this year they will be electing men and women that will hold offices ranging from the highest in the land to that of local school boards. On Marco Island, residents will also be voting to fill four city council seats. Those seats are either being vacated by a sitting member or by members running for re-election.
This year Councilman Larry Sacher has chosen to not stand for re-election and will be stepping down. Councilmen Ken Honecker, Larry Honig and Amadeo Petricca are seeking a second and final four year term on the board.
Newcomers Jared Grifoni, Fred Kramer, Howard Reed, Jerry Swiacki and Charlette Roman are also seeking a seat at the dais for one of the four eligible seats.
At the Coastal Breeze News we are in the process of reviewing the backgrounds and interviewing the eight candidates for those seats. Four of those candidates will have stories presented this week and the other four in our September 30th edition of the Coastal Breeze News. The order of those stories were done by a random drawing of the candidates’ names.
The Coastal Breeze News will not be endorsing any candidate, but instead believes it is our responsibility to provide you with the backgrounds on each candidate to provide you with the necessary information to make a rational and educated decision on who you would like to lead the community you live in the next four years.
A number of open forums will be held so voters can hear what the candidates are thinking about the issues that voters are concerned with.
September 29 – at Rose Hall with doors opening at 6:30PM and their forum beginning at 7PM. This event is sponsored by the Southwest Florida Citizens Alliance.
October 13 & 19 – at Rose Hall with doors opening at 5:00PM and the forum beginning at 5:30PM. These two events are jointly sponsored by the Chamber of Commerce, Marco Island Civic Association and the Marco Island Board of Realtors.
In the 2012 election that saw all the incumbents who were seeking re-election soundly defeated, Larry Honig was propelled to a seat at the dais as one of seven sitting city councilors. This November he will be seeking a second four year term as once again four seats area available.
Prior to running for election Honig had not been involved in many community activities, however he had been a regular at city council meetings for about a year before throwing his hat into the political ring, taking notes and speaking on issues.
Honig is married to his wife Lisa and they share four children between them from previous marriages and now have two grandchildren. They moved to the island in 2007 having both lived in both the Midwest and on the East Coast before choosing Marco Island as their home.
Honig has an extensive career in business management and consulting and has an MBA from Harvard. He has attempted to bring some of his “business planning experience” into play on the council. Those attempts initially saw him bring forward the “Honig Graphs and Charts” during his early months on the council.
Some of those attempts at meetings to introduce a more “corporate presentation style” were sometimes met with humorous comments and ribbing by his fellow councilors.
Honig is a man who is unrelenting when he believes in his position, and will bring forth facts and figures which he believes provides support for his stances on issues. This has at times been the catalyst of some fairly animated debates between councilors.
When council met in joint session with the Collier County Board of Commissioners in December 2014, itwas Honig who independently suggested that the city might want to give back Goodland Road to the county. Initially that idea found little traction with commissioners or his fellow councilors, however some of his fellow councilors had indicated as of late that they might support a similar plan.
“One of my issues with the city maintaining control and responsibility for the roadway is the long term financial exposure to the city,” said Honig. “I also feel we have a responsibility to the citizens of Goodland.”
“I think we might have gone past the window of opportunity for that now,” said Honig in an interview. “If you remember I pushed to have our manager and the county manager negotiate an acceptable solution; I lost that vote on council,” said Honig.
A subsequent vote that outlined specifics of the negotiating points was passed and the city manager has held discussions with the deputy county manager, but there appears to be little desire by the county to move in that direction.
The recent controversy which has arisen over a developer’s proposal to build a 165 room hotel at the corner of Park Avenue and Elkcam Circle has Honig concerned over the process which he believes was flawed for not formerly involving council at the outset to deal with issues such as the value of density credits that the city holds and how those values were arrived at.
He also had a problem with the commitment of the city to enter into an agreement for the use of certain city assets at the Veterans Community Park. “I just don’t believe the manager has that authority,” said Honig and he aggressively pursued that point at the September 6 meeting of the council, even after it was pointed out that the council would have the final say and could pull out of the negotiations and agreement at any time.
Honig has his own website where he will entertain questions from constituents at www.honigformarco.com.
Charlette Roman is no stranger to her neighbors on the island. She is well known for her activism regarding wildlife, environmental issues and her concerns regarding zoning and planning issues both on the local and the county level.
Roman is a 26 year veteran of the United States Army and retired as a Colonel. She enlisted in the Army from her hometown in Akron, Ohio and served two years as a PFC in the Army before she took advantage of a special college education program offered by the military. She attended Loyola University in New Orleans where she received a BA in Communications in addition to being commissioned a Second Lieutenant after completing her ROTC training that same year.
Roman would later go on to receive her MA in Business Management from Webster College later in her military career. She is also a graduate of the U.S. Army War College, Class of 1999.
After retiring from the Army in 2002 she chose Marco Island as her home and immediately became involved with everything from shells, birds, flowers and the fragile eco-system that surrounds the Southwest Florida coastline.
She has served on numerous committees and boards, some of which include, but are not limited to Friends of Tigertail, the Gulf Coast Orchid Alliance, the Marco Island Shell Club, the Calusa Garden Club and many more organizations on the island.
In addition to following her passion for the environment she has also served on the Board of Directors for the Marco Island Taxpayers Association and the Marco Island Civic Association.
She has received a number of awards for her work which include recognition as a 1000-Hour Volunteer with the Rookery Bay National Estuarine Research Reserve and being named the 2009 Collier County AudubonSociety Fellow.
Roman had initially served on the Marco Island Planning Board from 2004 to 2006 but felt the time away from the island, which was required by some consulting she was doing was taking too much time away from those duties.
In 2013 she returned to her role as a member of that board once again and served as its Chairperson in 2015. She was appointed the first At-Large Environmental Member of the Collier County Planning Commission in 2013, but had to step down to run for the seat on the Marco Island City Council.
As a member of the Marco Planning Board she brought forward a 5 point plan to enact what she saw was a simpler Rental Ordinance during the city’s debate over how to proceed. The Roman Plan would have enacted restrictions on noise, parking, trash issues and occupancy concerns.
A portion of her proposal would have included the levying of fines on owners of offending properties in addition to the registration and inspection of those properties with the requirements to bring them up to code relative to safety issues. Her attempt failed to simplify the process and the ordinance itself was later rescinded by council rather than face a referendum on the issue.
Roman is passionate about “process” and that may find its origins in her military background. She has a reputation for not wanting to waiver from the defined nature of procedural matters and attempts to hold her colleagues to those standards and the requirements of the Land Development Code in addition to the process.
She does share a concern as to whether setbacks are adequate in relationship to the “mass” of structures being constructed today. The replacement of smaller homes by larger ones in established single family neighborhoods is an example of that.
That issue and others will be addressed during the review of the Land Development Code as it proceeds beyond the initial phase that involves cleaning up some of the verbiage and providing a clearer understanding of the Code itself for all parties.
She is concerned about the somewhat revolving door syndrome with the planning department itself and points to the changes in personnel over the last 6 years. That lack of stability within the department and the influx of large scale projects such as the Marriott, Rose Marina and Crystal Shores causes her to voice her goal of wanting to insure we have a stable and professional staff to carry on the planning needs for the community going forward.
“We need to do the necessary planning for the community’s future,”
You can find more information regarding Charlette Roman by visiting her website at www.electcharletteroman.com
Amadeo Petricca is a man of very few words. He doesn’t use a lot of technology in his life, but relies instead on crunching his own numbers and drawing his own conclusions. One of his favorite adages is that he is not a politician.
He and his wife had discovered Marco Island as did so many other couples when they were here on vacation in 1994. They would continue to visit the island until 1999 when they would purchase a vacant lot and build what would become their permanent home where they would retire to in 2002.
If you review his background you can better understand the man himself. His studies in accounting at Kansas University were cut short in his third year when he was drafted to serve in the Army during the Korean conflict. He would not return to college until 1986 to finish his studies for a degree in Accounting in the evenings.
“I look at the facts and draw my conclusions on issues according to those facts, not theemotions surrounding an issue,” said Petricca. “Special interests shouldn’t have a leg up on vast majority of taxpayers. That is what caused the problems in the past,” said Petricca.
He started his career as a simple cost accounting clerk and would eventually rise in his professional career to the position of comptroller for the plastics manufacturer that he worked for in New Jersey. During the last 16 years before his retirement he would obtain the position of Chief Operating Officer for a large printing and laminating business, also located in New Jersey.
For the last decade or so Petricca has been an activist regarding city matters. He has served on a number of boards, committees and advisory groups. Those included the Electric Municipalization Committee, the Utility Rate Study Board, the Forensic Audit Committee, Audit Scoring Committee, Audit Advisory Committee, CRA Ad-Hoc Advisory Committee, a board member of the Utility Advisory Board and the Ad-Hoc Utility Advisory Committee. In addition to those city committees he also served as a board member on the Marco Island Taxpayer Association (MITA).
Although Petricca has been a watchdog on fiscal matters he also is proud to point to his role in obtaining an additional Collier County Ambulance on the island for the busy seasonal growth in residents. “Chief Murphy and myself went to the county and discussed the issue two years ago. Those discussions resulted in the addition of the added unit during the peak seasonal population time,” said Petricca.
“I guess that’s why I laugh when some people are claiming we don’t have a relationship between the county and the city; those claims are for political purposes. We will never agree on everything, but we do work together to benefit my bosses, the taxpayer of Marco Island,” continued Petricca.
Three other areas that concern Petricca lie in the protection of the environment. “We just passed a fertilizer ordinance which is aimed at protecting our waterways,” said Petricca. “This is the type of long range planning we have to do to protect that fragile resource, instead of waiting to react to a crisis.”
Storm water is another area that concerns Petricca, especially during the heavy rain season. “We have 1,837 catch basins on the island presently and we have to insure they are properly maintained. We have the equipment and the manpower to do that, we have to insure it is done,” said Petricca.
Another area which Petricca believes should be reviewed is in the required setback provisions as relates to redevelopment on single family homes. “We have to be careful to protect the homes on either side of a property that is seeing an older and smaller home demolished and a mega-home constructed. We have to insure that runoff is appropriately dealt with and the innocent homeowner on each side is protected from potential movement of water runoff onto their properties,” commented Petricca.
Marco Island has now changed to a Magistrate system to deal with code violations and Petricca believes that to be a plus for the taxpayer. “Many residents have come to us in the last 4 years wanting to insure we focus on quality of life issues. Having a Magistrate to handle these issues in a professional manner is going a long way to doing that,” said Petricca.
“We’ve come a long way these last four years; it’s not been perfect but we are headed in the right direction. Roger Hernstadt has done a commendable job, given the challenges he inherited when he came here. There are 7 independently minded people on our board and there is a lot of give and take, but I wouldn’t want a board that rubber stamps everything,” said Petricca as our interview came to a close.